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Stephanie McCurry Education. (2013) 'Confederate Reckoning Power and Politics in the Civil War South.'

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Stephanie McCurry  Education.  (2013) 'Confederate  
   Reckoning Power and Politics in the Civil War South.'  

    January 19, 2013
    9:30 - 10:00pm EST  

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in considering the pots to be don't in suppressing the insurrection i have been anxious and careful that the conflict shall not dissent to violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle. the union must be preserved, he continued. but we should not be in haste to determine radical and extreme measures are indies penceble to preserve it. this approach was dictated in lincoln's mind by two assumptions. first lincoln assume that the national government must at all costs remain support of the four slave states within the union. those in light blue. so called loyal border states, delaware, missouri, maryland and especially kentucky top do that, he believed, the republicans must not an antagonize those states politically powerful
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slave holders. antagonize them by interfering with slavery in the succeeding states at least not interfering with them anymore than necessary. lincoln was sure that if he did otherwise the slave holders would pick up and leave as well. second lincoln assumes that only a small minority in the succeeding states really support succession. he and other republicans believe that the great majority of white southerners in the confederacy. slave holders and nonslave holders alike. loyal abiding citizens who had been tricked in to suck us is suggestion by a minority of extremists. leaving slavery alone would hopefully, win them back in to the union. that is the expectations. but after a full year of war, and despite lincoln's efforts to
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spare their property and feelings, precious few confederate slave owners were displaying any act of sympathy that the union or union policy. the lack of support from supposedly prounion slave owners all the more worrisome in the light of the bad that was around that time coming from virginia battle fields. it was becoming painfully clear that the con fed armies con vetting -- purchases for them by slaves. building fortifications in places artillery. as you see here in the artist sketch carrying weapons and carrying for the sick and wounded cooking and cleaning and other tasks. raising the crops that fed the population.
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and fed the army. more and more republican leaders conclude they'd tempting fight the war without the enemy was impossible. concluded on the contrary that union armies must become more aggressed. must become more ruthless toward the confederate leadership and the supporters and in particular concluded that union armies must free slaves systemically and in large numbers. they must take slaves away from the confederacy and use them to strengthen the union war effort. slaves like these working on confederate fortifications in savannah. how did the union come to this understanding of the significance of slavery as a military factor? the courageous initiative of
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slaves themselves helped inmeasurably to bring the union to basic change of policy. at the enormous risk, and enormous sacrifice to themselves and their families, more and more of them escaped from their masters as union armies approached. and to do that, they had to evade both enraged owners, reenforced slave patrols, and confederate armies. those who succeeded presents themselves before union soldiers offering to perform tasks of all kinds like this young woman identified -- excuse me in the photograph you see before you only as a washer woman who worked for the union army in virginia, tasks of all kinds of the union war earth in exchange for sanction ware from their owners.
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lincoln thus came to recognize this reality and he changed course. and so as you know, he issued his emancipation proclamation. the relimb their one in 1862 and final january 1st 1863. declaring all slaves to be legally free in the confederacy. lincoln's attitude toward black men serving in uniform changed under the same pressure. during the first phase of the war within the government categoryically rebuffed all attempts by black men to join the fight. to join union armies. on this question, the need for more soldiers to fight the war proved decisive under the pressure of the necessity, union policy evolved. it evolved from adamantly excluding blacks in 1861 and 18 62 to recruiting them as
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soldiers in 1863. by the end of the war, some 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had served in the union. and union policy forward those soldiers and sailors changed too. first they were confined almost soully, -- solely speaking of the soldiers to noncombat tasks. but their courageous conduct whenever they came under fire, nonetheless, eventually lead the union to welcome black troops in to combat duty. here we have a drawing of black troops playing a crucial role in liberating slaves in north carolina. a common theme in the last era of the war. as lincoln repeatedly acknowledged the black soldiers proved crucial to the event yule union victory. frying and recruiting them, lincoln explained tirelessly, was, he said, the only policy
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that can or could save the union. any substantial departure from this policy, he said, ensures the success of the rebellion. without the colored force, lincoln emphasized, we would be powerless to save the union. most northerners probably embraced e mans nation -- and stowght detroit pressure union many others as a worthy goal in the own right. over of the course of the war many of the northerners who been abolition nist and particularly troubled by slavery also came to embrace emancipation for more than merely pragmatic reasons. in the ranks of people like
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this, more than democrats, a great many republicans and union soldiers of various political backgrounds. one of these was sergeant eli of minnesota. who explained to relatives at early 1863 that while he had, quote, never been in favor of the abolition slavery, his experience in this war has determined me in the conviction that it is a greater sin than our government is able to stand and now i go in for a war of emancipation and i'm ready and willing to do my share. lincoln opposed the slavery including on moral grounds spoke for more and more union supporters when he -- the meaning of emancipation in the second inauguration address. there he suggested the terrible civil war was god's way of
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punishing the country as a whole for having indulged the sin of slavery. and lincoln, added hatch knows the fighting and destruction shall continue until the wealth piled up 250 years of -- shall be suffered. every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawing with sword said lincoln can only bow the head and agree with -- that the judgment of the lord are true and rich use all together. thank you for your attention. [applause] is there a non-fiction author or book you would like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail. or tweet us at
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twitter.com/booktv. now another interview from the university of pennsylvania. stephanie mccurry sat down with booktv to discuss the book confederate wreckenning and. it's a little under a half hour. confederate reckoning. power and politicals in the civil war south. the author is history professor stephanie mccurry of the university of pennsylvania. first of all, professor, what is this painting on the front of your book? >> this is a civil war painting of a "battleship" going down. the con fred rate flag going down in flames. it's an al gore call painting. it's not military history. ting tells you about what the book is about. >> professor, if you would start
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by giving the demographic of the south in 1860. >> that's a crucial question. they went to war, tried to make the new nation, they were smaller than the union to start with roughly 10 million people compare to the union's 22. that was already tough row to hoe. age military -- it isn't as much paid attention to. 4 million of the 10 million people were black and enslaved. when it came time to mobilize the war. they didn't have access to 10 million people. they had access to a white population of 6 million. half of whom under women and half under age. the demographics were tough to start with. >> how many white maims in that point. >> obviously that was the base. >> right. well, i tried to figure how many men of voting age. the link between voting and soldiering was tight in the
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19th century. i figure about one and a half military -- voting-age white men. and military age starts smaller than that 18 to 35. by the end of the war it's 15 to 55. >> what advantages going in to the war of the civil war besides cotton and rehear about cotton, at least we've heard about it for years as one of the advantages. what was the advantage for the south is. >> i think it was hard to figure out how hay do it. has lee said they were -- agricultural south free labor north and slave labor south. two-thirds of the capital is enslaved human beings. they don't have , i mean, whey went to make the sale. they to ship it out and bring it in. they didn't have the capacity to make it. it's easy -- a great question. it's easy to list the things they don't have.
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i think what nay have was a lot of confidenced in the political endeavor. and a lot of faith that just as they had made the united states what it was between 1778 and 1860 they could succeed and make the other country independent and they could build a proper nation state in the 19th century sense of the word on the basis of cotton and slaves. they talked about this a lot. at the time of succession and for the first couple of years of war. they compared themselves to other european countries in population, resources, value of trade. they were riding high. i think it's the confederacy often misunderstood. we tend to think of as defensive move. they were losing in the union. they decided to, you know, take this gamble. they did take a gamble. they were only slave holding class in the 19th century war who did it.
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the brazilian, cuban didn't. why did they do it? that's an interesting question. i try to explain a little bit in the book. what was mind set. it's completely fascinating to get inside the mind of the incredibly powerful not just in terms of social power and wealth but political power of this planter elite. they were used to running the united states and they really did not doubt their ability to do this separately. so the confidence is there. and a big piece of the story. >> was there overwhelming support for succession among the south. >> no. it's a really interesting political campaign. when i, i mean, i've written about it three or four times in my life. i have never seize to be amazed. it's as interesting as my campaign in modern history. karl rove would have been impressed. they needed , i mean, most of the elite, the political elite, you know, only a third of white adult men owned slaves in the south at this point.
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and most didn't own very much. the political elite organize straiting this especially flit deep south they were confidence they could do this and they believed that they would be able to pull it off. and they didn't have any trouble alooning each other. the challenge for them was that this was a white man's democracy. every adult white man got vote. there weren't -- there was no property qualifications let. they had to do this by e elect trail means. they had to win an election. they weren't confidence about that. there was an incredible a. para military violence that went in to. and the results very uneven. thag how they went out of the union. what proceeded that? when you're in a meeting and everything unanimous. don't you get suspicious?
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i do. there was a lot of back story to how thigh pulled it off. other places the back story showed. in alabama the up country representative just charged they were being run out of the union with that democracy was being completely violated. people in virginia looked tat and said no ordinary farmer has voted for this. they have run us out of the union without the consideration of democratic process. i think it's interesting it's revealing what democracy was and innocent a slave regime in 1860. they called it a democracy. they sometimes often made the case what they wanted was a republican and democracy was mob of course sei. it was part of the reason they wanted out of the union. they didn't like the direction it was going. they had to play the game to get success through and strong armed
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it through in number of state and upper south, remember, the normal democratic process if not yield succession none of the -- succeeded until fort sumter was fired on. even then were upper states and four of them succeeded and four didn't. they completely split it. it was incredibly contentious. it meant that they ended up fighting with 11 slave states. is that right? yeah. 11 instead of fifteen. there were fifteen slave states in 1860. only 11 states confederacy. you see them breaking off a part of the south or the slave south. just never put state with the confederacy. >> did jefferson davis ever win an actual election? >> he was a senator. but what senator -- [inaudible] >> he was nominated to -- in a
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institutional convention as the moderate in alabama in february of 1861, and i don't think he stood for election. >> one of the things that americans think that the confederate constitution, one of the things they're told was a replica of the u.s. constitution. but it wasn't. they made a number of crucial changes. one was they had a one-term executive. i believe it was a five-year executive term. he avoid re-election. professor, ask -- was there a lot of infighting during the war in the south? >> yeah. there was. there was no formal political parties. i mean, one of the things that is interesting about the confederacy. quickly became on the ropes right, a lot of things that were planned never really material idessed -- materialized. and the political opposition, it was ab in a colleague kind of
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form. everybody was a democrat. there was no republican party no republican party ticket offered in the south. you couldn't vote for lincoln. certainly in the deep south. i think in virginia you could vote for lincoln. they were all -- southern wing of the democratic party. and during the war, oppositions arose and some of the more profoundly oppose to the dais davis administration on very good grounds that the davis administration was one of the most centralizing federally concentrated power regime of the entirety of american history. one political scientist who looked at this looked at the union government, the structure of the states and the federal government in the union, and the structure of the states and the federal government in the confederacy and said the confederacy was the -- he said the united never had a government that big and top down until the new deal. they succeeded on state rights and had to bill and proceeded
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to, because they had to build, the enormous central state apparatus. they conscriptedded within a year. i mean, think about that. as a statement of state power. they conscripted wan year. they pass taxes within basically year. and they had agent of the federal government all over the south. literally taking food out of people's barns. it was the only way they could feed the army. they impressed slave which was an enormous fight. it's an fascinating part of the story. slave holders go to war to protect slavely then they find out they think the new government is there to protect their slaves in war. as it turns out the federal government wants to and needs to use the slaves to win the war. it was enormous tussle between verne nt. they wrote a clause in the constitution that congress could
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never abolish slavery. they literally had a problem of sovereignty. they couldn't reach the slaves as male bodies to use for military labor. they couldn't reach them without the permission of the owner. they had code codified the status of slaves as private property. they had to live with that. can you imagine a lot of the slave holders were mortgaged up to the eye balls. they weren't interested to sending the slaves off to build forts with 20,000 slaves all of whom talk about whaght war was about and the angle and what it meant to have a powerful ally like the union. one of the engineers on the works in virginia -- said slaves don't like to do the work. they know they don't like to do it for personal reasons. they don't like to do it because they don't want to do any labor to beforth the union. that's fascinating.
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watching the psychology of the slave holders change. these are people who so accustom to thinking of slaves as a human being of a sort. one who -- they instrument of the masters business. from the minute lincoln is elected they notice a difference in the behavior of the slaves on the plantation. one thing that is different in the book, i use the plantation record to watch the guys as they start out saying slavery an element to strengthen the war. we can put every white man to the army. and we have the slaves to cothe dirty work of the army. as soon as they do that they come up against the planters who won't send their slaves because they are rebellion on the plantation. communicating with the enemy, guiding them up the river and through the swamp. it's fascinating the human struggle for the seizing of the
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lever of history by slaves. and intimate nature of the struggle with the owners slave men and women and children. it's just an mess -- amazing part of the story. and, you know, not one that often makes it in to the documentaries and -- it's very fine grained. at the humanitarian level it's absolutely epic and compelling. >> what about the role of southern white men during the founding confederacy and the war itself? >> yeah. it's one of the things they i worked on my whole career. i feel the heavy weight of history as a historian to say are we going do on in the 21st century and write history like women don't matter and they don't attempt to shake the present and the future in the confederacy, the -- at the time of succession women don't have a 0 vote. that doesn't mean they don't have political opinions.
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right. but the interesting thing is that they get knead to the symbol of the nation and patriotism and the people who are for success say the women with us. and all the women us. and in fact, you know, they divide along the same lines as men. there are many that are proconfederate and become increasingly so. there are many women who think it's a crazy idea. and some elite idea worried about the son. and sometimes more racial and prague mat about what war is going to bring. not glory but death. but the really, i think, moment which women step to the making of history in the confederacy has to do with the question you ask me at the begin, eat the demographic. they go war against the union and you -- we know that especially after they got the boot when grant and sherman
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running the show specialsly in the west and the east one of the union tactic was to bring more and more and more men in and to press the confederacy systematically. and it was brilliant. what it did is refuse the ability to limit a number of men around and the pressure of the number on the confederacy, you can track it inside the war department response. the consumption rate or the mill -- military servanteds historians think was somewhere between 75 and 85% of military age men of servant. there are not many other examples in list i are. when i tell people and my colleagues in european history. they say are you sure it was that high? by the end the military age 15-55. what do you think the so called home front looks like with 85 percent of men gone?
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women describe it as stripped of men. and the other thing you have to keep in mind is this an agricultural country. what men leave women have to go the field which they work nltd field. not only women but poor white and ordinary farm women worked in the field. they were supplemented the labor of husband and sons. now they are doing it on the own. and one of the main things i write about in the book the women become in a sense political ferns that the government has to reckon with. especially at the state level. governors because they start to beseeing the government with letters initially telling these, you know, tales of woe about how they're struggling to make food and survive on the home front. they start out begging letters and then they get angry and threatening. we will bring the deserts down on you the gorilla down on you. in the end, the confederacy has
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a starvation level food crisis in the spring of 1863, when it happens they know it's coming. governors and county clerks are writing each other and writing the sec -- secretary of war you can't take -- the women step in at the moment to represent the communities and they start really attacking the confederate government about the justice of the military policy. the rich man's war poor man's fight becomes a women's fight as well. men aren't home, the women step up, they really start to reroute power on the home front. they make themselves the powerful constituency that state and county officials have to take account of. in the spring of 1863 there's a waive of food rite that start in atlanta and for a month, i think it's more than a dozen food riot
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sweep the confederacy all by women numbering from dozen richmond it's. 00 followed by a crowd of 1,000 other people, and this is, i mean, everybody -- the press initially thinks it's a conspiracy. they have conspiracy theories that union is fermenting this. it's not. it's women. richmond the mayor indicted the women. and the court records there to show one woman organized this and called the women being planned for at least a ten day -- she called women to public meeting at a baptist church. she told them to come to the market the next morning to leave their children at home and come armed. they did. they showed up the next morning and ripped up the war of and the warehouses in richmond. and for a month, the confederacy was convulsed. davis tried to stopped telegraph
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line. the union -- and the war just gloating over this. this must be the end. the women are up in arms and giving them grief. so they step to the making of history, i think that moment in a decisive way. and they put the confederate states and government on notice that if they take their men they're going have to answer to them. it's a really, i think, interesting and important political moment for the confederacy and the united states. >> what was the level of dering's, do you know? >> i don't remember the numbers, but it's higher than the union but the union also has a problem. the desertion -- the con confederacy struggled mightingly with the december version they struggle with the armed union gur riel will bands. both states that stayed with the confederacy had a lot of unionist activity within them.

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